12 Miles Below

12 Miles Above the standard of quality

Some pros about this story:

1. Planning. Unlike many other stories that are written chapter-to-chapter, this one contains plenty of foreshadowing and has ideas that are planned far in advance. This gives everything in the story a purpose and makes you want to pay attention to details. If I’m wrong and the story somehow ISN’T planned...well, kudos to the author for tricking me, cause when I read it, that’s the impression I get.

2. Snappy prose that doesn’t get caught up in itself or drift into Purple Prose territory. This may be a Your Mileage May Vary thing, as some people do enjoy stories with somewhat wordier descriptions and dialogue than 12 Miles Below, but for the kind of narrative it’s trying to tell, this style works well.

3. Setting. The post-apocalyptic tundra environment on its own makes the story stand out from others. In a sea of medieval fantasy environments on Royal Road – which don’t get me wrong, I love – 12 Miles Below’s setting is a nice change of pace. Worldbuilding is strong as well, with care given to background details to engross you in the setting. The worship around old technology is an especially fun detail.


1. Some grammar could be cleaned up. I’ve seen MUCH worse in other stories, but every now and then a mistake does stand out. This is hardly a dealbreaker, though, and is an issue that an extra editor could easily solve. Fixing grammar is significantly easier than fixing plot. And considering the consistently quick upload schedule, it’s tough to fault the author for not self-editing perfectly.

2. ...That’s it? No story is perfect, but I can’t think of any glaring flaws worth pointing out. Good show from the author, keep up the good work.

The Strongest Fencer Doesn’t Use [Skills]!

I've read this up to Chapter 16 on Spacebattles, and I have to say it really goes places. The story blasts you at the start with a hotblooded protagonist with an unflinching hatred of the LitRPG circumstances he finds himself in, and over time the layers of his seemingly irrational behavior are peeled back in a sequence of events that put the entire rest of the story into a greater context. I'm a huge fan of stories that end up being more than they appear at first glance, so this one was right up my alley.

Of course, an interesting plot structure can only carry a story so far, but thankfully Strongest Fencer is just plain fun and entertaining outside of that. The characters are very entertaining, the pacing is tight, and the fight scenes are clearly written by someone who has actual experience in fencing. Another thing I'm a sucker for is an underdog fight, where the main character is seemingly outclassed and wins through skill, bravado, and cunning. This can be hard to pull off without a deus ex machina, but the story manages to do that numerous times, which is impressive in its own right.

Really looking forward to where this one goes! It's started off strong and has a lot of potential to become something special.

Wizard's Tower

Apathetic wizard yells at kids to get off his lawn

Where the 'kids' in question are people younger than him - which is everyone.

The greatest strength of Wizard's Tower is how it portrays the internal thought process of someone who's outlived everyone he's met in his youth by decades, and will continue to outlive almost everyone else around him. He avoids forming emotional bonds, can't remember names as they all blur together, and prefers isolation instead of getting caught up in the political bullshit that someone of his strength inevitably will. As a result, he feels extremely disconnected from society, one where everyone he emotionally invested himself into is dead and where his greatest accomplishments have been largely forgotten.

Another thing the story does very well is worldbuilding. Scenes are depicted in great detail, allowing you to easily create an image of the surroundings in your head. Extensive behind-the-scenes care has obviously been put into the innerworkings of the world and its history. There's also an interesting tonal dissonance caused by the world being filtered through the main character's head; he has little to worry about due to how powerful he is, which can almost make you gloss over the little details the narrative gives about the world that informs the reader of how dark and dangerous a place it can be if you aren't an overpowered wizard.

It's definitely a slow burn, especially at the start, but if that's the kind of story that you enjoy then this should be right up your alley.